Match of the Round
Cessnock City Hornets 0 def. by South Cardiff Gunners 2 (Tom Butzmann, Dino Fajkovic)
Sunday 21 July, Turner Park
South Cardiff have put one foot in the finals door with a hard-fought 2-0 victory over Cessnock City in the Match of the Round at Turner Park.
The Gunners were missing captain-coach Denis Fajkovic and Sam Ford while Dino Fajkovic anchored the midfield compared to the Hornets who were close to full-strength.
Chances were few and far between in the opening stages before a corner was whipped in and Tom Butzmann headed the ball home for the opening goal and his ninth of the season.
Another corner was cleared by the Hornets which fell to the dangerous Fajkovic who fired in a devastating drive from thirty yards to double the Gunners lead and notch his ninth of the campaign.
After the break, the Hornets came out strong with Isaac Peek creating a couple of chances while Brad York hit a fantastic shot from range that skimmed the crossbar, however, the Gunners would hold onto another clean sheet with Tom Jenkin pulling off some impressive saves towards the end of time.
Centre-backs Murray Leyland and Corey Nicholas were instrumental for the Gunners in keeping out the Hornets and now cementing their spot in third on the table.
Cessnock’s season is now almost over as they remain in the seventh spot with a lot of ground to make up, but the side fought bravely and they will want to finish their great season on a high.
The Gunners have hit great form heading into the back end of the season in claiming their third-straight win and first-grade coach Chris Moylan said there are still some big tests to come before finals.
“It was our third game in a week, so it was mentally and physically very challenging, but we were lucky enough to keep the same line-up, and I thought our defensive structure was excellent,” Moylan said.
“They’re a very good partnership (Murray Leyland and Corey Nicholas), Murray is more of a ballplayer and Corey is an out-and-out defender, Tom Butzmann also had a knock but should recover.
“We know we’ve got to get as many points as possible and try and win every game, we have big games coming up against Cooks Hill and West Wallsend and both will be a massive test to see if we can mix it in the finals, Cooks Hill are the benchmark but we will go in with a strong mindset to win every game we play.”
New Lambton Eagles 1 (Riley Taylor) def. by Belmont-Swansea United 6 (Reece Newton x3, Ty Goldsmith x2, Chris Gazzard)
Saturday 20 July, Alder Park
A second-half blitz from Belmont-Swansea has seen them fire six past New Lambton to record a stunning 6-1 win at Alder Park.
New Lambton started the faster with their season on the line as Riley Taylor latched onto a loose ball in the box to make it 1-0 and bag his eleventh goal in another terrific season for the striker.
Belswans best chance in the first half would fall the way of centre back Luke Conners, with his header coming off the bar while the Eagles would hold onto their slim lead at the break.
The defending premiers rejuvenated themselves after half-time and showed their clinical nature as Ty Goldsmith was again in the goals latching onto a superb Mark Finlayson cross.
From there it was all one-way traffic as Belswans ran riot as Chris Gazzard fired in a stunning goal from the edge of the area while Reece Newton scored a sensational hat-trick with pin-point finishing.
Goldsmith would add another to put the icing on the cake to wrap up an impressive three points for the visitors and reverse a disappointing midweek display.
Belswans remain in the second spot on 32 points while New Lambton’s season is now over, suffering their fourth straight loss which leaves them in eighth spot.
The yellow and green showed their quality with the result, putting their finals rivals on notice while coach Mick Stafford said he was proud of his player’s turnaround in performance.
“Wednesday (against Toronto) was a crazy game, it was embarrassing, but we learnt a lot from it and the motivation was there to bounce back as individuals and as a group,” Stafford said.
“We were very flat in the first half to be 1-0 down, we spoke about the difference in playing football or being a footballer, I believe there is a huge difference between the two.
“I know I have experienced footballers in the squad, we decided on a game plan, it worked well and we showed our class.
“Reece (Newton) is an NPL quality player, he has an amazing skill set and athleticism, he also leads through his actions and is lucky to learn off the likes of (Clayton) Poole, (Chris) Gazzard and (Mitch) Cook.”
Cooks Hill United 4 (Nick Russell x2, Dan Clements, Martin Raines) def. Wallsend 1 (Tendai Chivizhe)
Saturday 20 July, Fearnley Dawes Athletic Field
Cooks Hill has won their thirteenth game of the season and all but wrapped up a third-straight premiership with a 4-1 victory over Wallsend on their Legends Day.
Nick Russell again lead from the front bagging a double to take his season tally to twelve including an incredible strike that cannoned in off the post from a tight angle, while a storming Ash Balcomb run set up Dan Clements for another stunning counter-attacking goal.
Martin Raines would also notch another strike as he continues to form a lethal partnership with Lee Ashton at the point of attack.
Wallsend’s sole goal would come the way of Tendai Chivizhe who scored his first goal in the top grade after clever work from Quentin Conners to find the goalscorer unmarked in the box.
However, the day belonged to Cooks Hill as the black and white juggernaut rolled on, with the win moving the home side onto 41 points while Wallsend remains in tenth and firmly in the battle to avoid the wooden spoon alongside Toronto Awaba.
The Cookers have had another incredible season to date, with the club showcasing their support on ‘Legends Day’ and providing another terrific performance as assistant coach Jarrod Gorsuch praised the players and coaching staff for another great effort.
“The boys played really well, it was great to see the lads back up a strong performance midweek, the atmosphere was impressive and the Cookers are still a relatively young club compared to most in this league so to have the support there, the boys knew they needed to show up and put in a good performance,” Gorsuch said.
“The job isn’t fully done yet, still three games to finish out the season, as coaching staff, we couldn’t be happier as we set a mark at the start of the season and to be close to achieving that is very special.
“To be so close to winning three (premierships) in a row, credit must be paid to Graham (Law), the players and the committee, to get up every week for three years is very difficult.”
Toronto Awaba Stags 1 (Nathan McAllister) def. by Thornton Redbacks 3 (Jye McKellar x2, Jake Millstead)
Saturday 20 July, Lyall Peacock Field
Thornton has moved clear of the chasing pack aiming for finals, with a steady 3-1 win against Toronto Awaba at Lyall Peacock Field.
Toronto’s Nathan McAllister bagged the opening goal from a free-kick for the home side to put the Stags in the lead before the talented Redback attackers came to the fore.
Jye McKellar bagged a double to put his side in the lead while Jake Millstead continued his impressive form with a goal and his ninth of the season to propel the Redbacks to victory and cement them in fifth spot.
The Stags remain at the bottom of the table with three games remaining for both them and Wallsend, while the two sides entrenched in the wooden spoon battle will play each other on the final day of the season.
As for the Redbacks, they stay close to the final spots with the victory, while there upcoming rescheduled fixture in over a week against West Wallsend will be their biggest game of the season.
The Redbacks will first have to get past New Lambton next round before their big showdown against the Bluebells while coach Gary Wand said he was pleased with his attack and believes there is more to come.
“Toronto away on a very cold night is always tough, especially when they score first, but we were creating plenty of chances and we were hopefully going to score at some stage,” Wand said.
“We had four regular first-graders out and Wade Attewell was eased back into the Under 23’s, we hope to get two back next week and fingers crossed all back the week after.
“With Jye (McKellar) being injured for a big part of the season, Milly (Jake Millstead) has been fantastic for us, he’s work rate is huge and if anything tries too hard, but is arguably one of the best-attacking players in the competition.
“When we have our first choice front four, we know we can cause problems.”
Singleton Strikers 2 (Joe Civello x2) def. Kahibah F.C 0
Sunday 21 July, Howe Park
Singleton has snapped a four-game losing streak with a 2-0 win against Kahibah at Howe Park.
The result shatters Kahibah’s hopes of making the final four leaving them in sixth and six points behind West Wallsend in fourth.
Joe Civello notched a double as the Strikers fought-hard to attain a well-deserved victory after a couple of tough losses.
The victory also moves Singleton clear of the dreaded wooden spoon as they now sit firmly in ninth spot, but will now look forward to a tricky task when they travel to play Belswans next round.
Kahibah will face Cessnock next round and every game now for the Rams is do-or-die.